Does your Telco/OSS/BSS world feel like a Zero Sum Mental Model? There may be another way!

Do you ever get that feeling that your mental models of the telco / tech / OSS/BSS worlds are different to those of almost everyone else? Do you feel like there are the status-quo approaches that are kind of proven, but still not really as good as they could be? That there must be even better approaches?

I feel deeply embedded in this industry, but due to so many contrarian views, I also feel like I’m consistently off on a tangent.

I’ll share an example. Many years ago, I was lucky enough to attend a 2-day off-site with a large number of colleagues. My lasting, powerful takeaway from the entire event came from a large-scale game that kicked the event off. Our organisation had hired an external events agency, Phuel, to run a simulation called Rattlesnake Canyon. Due to other commitments, the game had already started before I arrived, so I wasn’t sure what the rules were. Turns out there were teams of Settlers and teams of Merchants. Whichever team you were, the aim was to maximise the amount made by your team after a number of rounds of trading.

Our team started out haggling with other teams, trying to get the best of the negotiations on tiny quantities. Merchants and Settlers were competing. Our team wasn’t making much progress. Nor were any of the other teams.

With only a couple of rounds to go, it finally dawned on me that the aim of the game was for settlers and merchants to partner up, get the optimal results together and split the “winnings.” Our results increased many-fold after the strategy switch. Enough for our team to finish second in the standings, despite the sadly late realisation.

At first we were reasonably happy to come in second, especially considering the number of incredibly bright colleagues we were competing against. But then the bombshell….

Our entire organisation of very clever people recorded one of the worst-ever results seen by the team at Phuel. Dean, the MC from Phuel then explained how far ahead his best-ever team had been compared with any of the hundreds of other teams who’d played the game over the years. It seems that team was led by an Investment Banker who immediately saw how partnership and sharing of capital was the optimal approach. He persuaded other teams to pool resources and buy as many of the highest yielding goods as possible.

Our organisation saw it as a zero-sum game, where for us to win, our trading partners had to lose on each transaction. It highlighted that our organisation of highly-skilled tech experts were transactional thinkers and totally missed how powerful partnerships and collaboration can be. I was blown away by how a single big-picture thinker could outperform our entire organisation by such a large amount.

This same constrained way of thinking is prevalent in OSS/BSS. The supply-side is highly fragmented (500+ listings in our vendor database), with many suppliers fighting for small numbers of new OSS procurement projects. There’s relatively little partnership or collaboration on the supply-side. Then on the demand-side, telcos structure their procurement events like a zero-sum game, hoping to minimise spend and risk by passing it over to suppliers desperate to win these rare and costly events. After winning the event, sellers then seek to rebalance the scales that are intentionally engineered to favour the buyers. They do so through variations and risk-shedding approaches that infuriate buyers. It’s a recipe for fighting, not long, trusted partnerships.

Are you buy-side or sell-side of this equation? Either way, how does this approach make you feel? Does it foster a scarcity or abundance mindset (of taking the biggest share of the pie or growing the pie)?

At Passionate About OSS, we’ve taken on the responsibility for growing the pie and growing partnerships within the industry by acting as connector. We introduce buyers with sellers. We introduce sellers with sellers where we believe partnerships, collaborations, mergers and acquisitions can deliver benefits to all parties involved.

We’ve even noticed a shift in our business model – from predominantly tech-centric (Solution Architecture and Enterprise Architecture) to a more market-centric (EnterpriseS Architecture – connecting enterprises together to solve broader challenges than just within a single organisation and helping with growth initiatives). Our greatest value is not providing technical guidance (even though we’re quite capable of that), but helping the industry and many of its players grow.

If you’re seeking a different way or seeking connections (people, projects, technologies, clients, acquisitions, partnerships, etc) to break out of the current red-ocean of OSS/BSS competition, leave us a note. We’d be delighted to discuss ideas that increase the size of the pie for you and your partners.

BTW. The seeds of this story were sown whilst listening to a podcast with James Altucher and Jeff Lerner (on the Unlock your Potential podcast). James highlighted that the pervasive financial system (mental model) we adhere to, called capitalism, is actually a misnomer. He believes that we’re actually defined by innovationism – where Silicon Valley has grown enormous wealth, not just through the application of capital, but by the application of capital to great ideas from all around the world. We’ll discuss that further in the next article, particularly where the world of telco and OSS/BSS fit within the sphere of innovation in recent decades.

PS. Don’t forget to contact us if you’d like to discuss what type of connections could help your OSS business thrive in 2023 and beyond.

 

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